An offer I can and will refuse

I just got an offer of a complimentary copy of a book if I would be willing to review it. I get these offers from time to time but what was unusual this time was in the choice of me as a potential reviewer. The book is about the Rapture, the supposed end of the world that some Christians believe is imminent and will signal the beginning of a massive, long, and bloody fight between the forces of Jesus and the forces of Satan as represented on Earth in human form by the Anti-Christ, whom some think is Barack Obama.

The key point is that true Christians will escape the carnage because just before the Rapture begins, they will all be whisked away to heaven from which they can watch the battle unfold, maybe on pay-per-view or something, while those left behind will have to suffer the consequences of their sinfulness by suffering through the End Times. I am a little confused as to who on Earth will remain behind to fight on the side of Jesus. Shouldn’t they also have been raptured, since they are presumably good people? At least, that is what I think the Rapture portends, though it is all kind of confused because the predictions are largely based on the Book of Revelation that reads like the author John wrote it while high as a kite.

According to the review offer that I got, the author says that she was inspired to write the book after “was transported into the future and saw an archangel blowing the shofar to signal the Rapture. A battle between her and her family against Satan ensued. He tried to stop this book from being released. She has a strong message for gangs, drug abusers, adults, teenagers, and the youth. Everyone should know what the angel said about being Rapture ready.”

The author’s statement as why she wrote the book is interesting, to put it mildly.

“I am not a preacher, prophet, or an evangelist. However, I am a person who loves the Lord and continuously studies prophecy. An archangel appeared before me and explained “how the Rapture will occur.” Afterwards, I started seeing a number of visions that all people need to know in order to prepare for the end time. Most of the visions are frightening and one should prepare herself/himself before reading this book.”

Her attached bio says that she published a horror novel in 1983 and is “an author of children’s books on respect and character education… She is an avid prophecy student of the Bible and has received many prophecies from the Lord to acquaint the public with “what lies beyond the Veil.””

The book might be fun to read and I am sure that I would have had a good time writing a caustic review. So why will I not accept the offer? Because I know I am going to find it hilariously bad. I have no scruples about writing a bad review. But I never accept an offer to review something if I am convinced before I even start that it is going to be rubbish. I have to start out feeling fairly neutral or positive about a book. It is not fair to an author for the reviewer to start out antagonistic and use the opportunity of a review to trash the work.

As an example of the things I might have written, the author says that there was a battle between her family and Satan and that the latter tried to stop the publication of her book. Clearly Satan has failed, which does not say much about his powers. If he could not deal with a single family or prevent the publication of a mere book, how is he going to fight Jesus? I also think of Satan as being a big picture, strategic thinker, CEO kind of guy who does not get involved in personal fights and details, leaving those to his minions to deal with.

What puzzles me is I was asked me to review this at all, since even a cursory knowledge of my writings would have told them that I would be an extremely hostile reviewer. If she is a prophecy student and has seen the future, wouldn’t she know people who are likely to agree to review it positively? I can only assume that I am on some massive list of addresses that contains everyone who writes about religion in any way and does not discriminate at all.


  1. says

    The key point is that true Christians will escape the carnage because just before the Rapture begins, they will all be whisked away to heaven from which they can watch the battle unfold, maybe on pay-per-view or something, while those left behind will have to suffer the consequences of their sinfulness by suffering through the End Times.

    How is being whisked to heaven different from “being killed”?
    Asking for a friend. I’m pretty sure I’m not on the list.

  2. invivoMark says

    My first suspicion would be that this author WANTS to collect scathing reviews from Atheists… so that she can turn right ’round and say, “Read my book! It makes atheists FURIOUS!”

    You are very right to refuse the offer. No good would come of it.

  3. starskeptic says

    I think you’re confusing ‘Rapture’ with ‘Apocalypse’ -- the ‘whisking away’ is the Rapture…

  4. Acolyte of Sagan says

    The author has clearly not read Revelations. If she had she would know that it states that no human has, is, or ever will be in Heaven; that is the abode of God, Jesus, and the angels.
    Further, the ‘rapture’, does not involve all Christians being removed from Earth before the battles begin. Revelations states that those who will ascend (but remain in Earth’s atmosphere) are from those who lived and died without sin since Adam and Eve (6000 years ago -- stop laughing at the back) and number 144,000, or 12,000 from each of the original 12 tribes. Everbody else, Christian or not, will be left to fend for themselves. We’ll return to this shortly.

    The battles will take place over 3.5 years, and will involve armies from every country. This ‘WWIII’ will kill two-thirds of the world population, leading to the final battle. To begin, the armies of both sides face each other in the Holy land and begin fighting. That is when Jesus and the 144,000 start to descend from the clouds. The 144,000 are Jesus’ own personal army.
    Supposedly, the warring factions on the ground, on seeing this, unite to fight this new, unknown threat, but are swiftly vanquised and all killed (all of this -- from the Earthly armies meeting to fight each other to their slaughter at the hands of Jesus ((that’s billions of people killed)) takes place in a single day. I said stop laughing at the back).

    It is at this point that the final judgement takes place. First up are all those who died throughout history, followed by those still living. Those who ‘pass’ get to live on for eternity in Jesus’ kingdom on Earth (not in Heaven). Those who fail simply die and stay dead for 1000 years, at which time they are again resurrected and given a second chance. If they fail again they are returned to the grave for eternity.

    So, no Heaven and no Hell for any human. However, Satan and his demons are chained and thrown into a lake of fire for eternity.

    That really was a wicked acid trip John was on.

  5. robert79 says

    I’d treat it as a parody of a review of a work of heroic fantasy.

    In this work of fantasy we follow the protagonist, Jesus (if he’s from the Middle East, why does he have a Mexican name?) on his quest to find his long lost father. For unclear reasons he is followed by a variety of disfavoury characters — together they seem to enjoy being bystanders and cheering aloud as untold horrors happen to innocent bystanders. Unfortunately the relationship between the main character and his father is badly developed in the novel. It clearly was a violently abusive relationship and it is unclear why Jesus wants to revisit this. The fact that the effects of this relationship are never adressed in character development leaves the reader with a rather empty and unfulfilled feeling at the end and makes for rather bland reading.

  6. says

    Too bad: you might have been able to team up with Fred “slacktivist” Clark, reviewer of the execrable Left Behind series of Rapture novels, formerly on his own blog but now over on Patheos.

    “One is an atheist professor! The other is a liberal Christian! Together, they fight crime review bad eschatological literature! Seriously, these are really bad!”

    (As a practicing Christian, Clark makes a fist of tackling the theology of the Rapture, such as it is given the scant Scriptural support for it, which is a fairly fringe belief outside the evangelical movement in America; and eviscerates it for the morbid fear of death that it is. Your average fundie wants to go to Heaven but is scared shitless of how one is supposed to get there. Given that Heaven in the Left Behind books is every bit the joyless place you can imagine, going there by any means would be down my list. At least Hell would be interesting!)

  7. jrkrideau says

    @ 1 Marcus
    Asking for a friend. I’m pretty sure I’m not on the list.

    If Calvin was right about predestination you may well be on the list. The trick is getting off.

    Best of luck.

  8. ridana says

    I want to see people who believe in the Rapture barred from getting driver’s licenses or employment (such as heavy equipment operator) where their sudden disappearance could be the proximal cause of loss of life to bystanders. This is a safety precaution, not religious discrimination. All one needs to do to avoid it is say you don’t really believe it. If you do believe it, you should be happy to abstain for the safety of others. It’s just common sense, like not drinking and driving.

    I think one could still have a pilot’s license, but could only be permitted to fly if one had a copilot who was not a believer. Solo flying would be right out. Flight crews probably ought to be at least 50% nonbelievers.

  9. bmiller says

    ridana: The Elect don’t care if their (now) driverless bulldozer runs over a bunch of people. THOSE people are the unelect, so they do not even count.

  10. Art says

    I figured that The Rapture was really a result of poor planing when writing the story. This sort of thing happened a lot before we humans were, I suppose, meta enough to plan our stories out so it came naturally to a satisfying conclusion with most of the loose ends tied up nicely.

    You see this incongruity a lot in early Greek plays and other stories of the era. The Greeks invented ‘deus ex machina’ to fill in those nasty gaps in logic and flow. Or in this case explain to, and reassure, the good Christians that there would be a great battle, but they personally wouldn’t have to suffer through it. So … on the verge of the great battle that has been building up as a plot point … the good people get lifted away where they can watch the bloody mess unfold from the comfort of a ringside seat. This is very reassuring, and quite convenient.

    ridana @9:
    Good point.

    In charge of heavy equipment operators I think I would have to be extra-safe and Rapture-ready. I could have all my operators go to a back room and commit a mortal sin or two just to make sure they don’t some day suddenly disappear on me and get some less innocent persons killed.

  11. file thirteen says

    It’s easily explained. The author has discovered that you are an atheist and better worse yet a role model for atheists. That’s an opportunity! If you read the author’s book, you will see the light and repent, you will confess, your blog will become a xtian one, all your blog readers will also repent in a huge orgy of repentance, and the author will be widely praised and adored and probably even elevated to sainthood for saving a humongous amount of unbelievers’ souls… or something.

    But wait, what am I saying?! No, that cannot be true, it’s too ridiculous! No sane person could truly hold such ideas -- why, a person who was able to believe such naively wishful thoughts would be so out of touch with reality that they might even end up writing, in all seriousness, a book on the rapture…

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